Changes to meat labels aim to help consumers
Don’t know your pork butts from your rump roasts? It may be getting a little easier.
The American meat industry is rolling out a refresh of the often- confusing 40-year-old system used for naming the various cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal. That’s because the system — the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards, or URMIS — was designed more for the needs of retailers and butchers than for the convenience of harried shoppers more familiar with Shake ’N Bake than boneless shank cuts.
The bottom line is that meat-counter confusion isn’t good for sales. So after nearly two years of consumer research, the National Pork Board, the Beef Checkoff Program and federal agriculture officials have signed off on an updated labeling system that should hit stores just in time for prime grilling season.
More than 350 cuts of pork and beef (veal and lamb updates are coming later) will sport the new labels, which will include not only simplified names, but also detailed characteristics of the meat and cooking guidelines. So what once was called pork butt — and actually does not come from the pig’s nether region — will now be called a Boston roast and be described as a bone-in pork shoulder.
Where appropriate, the new labels also will use universal terms across species — a bone-in loin cut will be called a T-bone whether it’s pork or beef — as well as reduce label clutter. Before the update, a properly labeled sirloin steak would be called a “beef loin top sirloin steak, boneless.” Now it will be called ... a sirloin steak.